Two conference reviews down, eight to go. We move on to the B's now. Here are the Big 10 standings.
cost Tim Beckman his job just before the season started. The Illini cannot blame close losses for the disparity between their record and their expected record. The Illini actually won their only close conference game, edging Nebraska 14-13. Despite finishing with a 5-7 record, Illinois elected to retain coach Bill Cubit. Not all were pleased with this decision. Like Illinois, Minnesota also ended the year with an interim coach, and they too decided to keep him on despite a losing record. Jerry Kill’s health issues resurfaced in 2015 and his abrupt retirement meant Tracy Claeys was now in charge. The Gophers lost a pair of tight games to good teams (Michigan and Iowa) en route to their 2-6 conference finish and were marginally competitive against both Ohio State and Wisconsin. Maryland, like the Gophers and Illini (sensing a theme here?) also ended the year with an interim coach. Randy Edsall was fired after a 2-4 start and disgraced former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley replaced him. Locksley guided the Terrapins to just one win in their final six games, but that was half as many as he had in nearly five times as many games in the Land of Enchantment. And he avoided a sexual harassment scandal to boot. Maryland was more competitive under Locksley, losing one-score games to both Penn State and Wisconsin under his guidance. For the triumvirate of teams that exceeded their YPP numbers, close games told the story. Iowa, Northwestern, and Michigan State finished a combined 12-1 in one-score conference games with the only loss coming in controversial fashion by the Spartans. Iowa also posted a +13 turnover margin in Big 10 plays (tops in the conference). Iowa, Northwestern, and Michigan State produced gaudy regular season records, but in their bowl games, they were beaten by a combined score of 128-22, providing further ammunition for the argument that they were not quite as good as their record indicated.
Now, I am going to throw some shade toward Mr. Paul Chryst.
Around midseason when Pitt began to look like a contender in the ACC Coastal Division, it looked like they had made a coaching upgrade when their former head coach, Paul Chryst, took the Wisconsin job. Obviously, except in extremely rare instances, one season does not serve as the final evaluation in the success or failure of a head coach. Still, I thought it would be interesting to look at coaches who change jobs and see how both their former and current teams performed with them at and not at the helm. I decided to call my little throwaway metric ‘The Chryst Index’ or TCI. Basically what TCI measures is how much worse the coach’s old team got when he left combined with how much better his new team got when he arrived. Here is a quick rundown on how it is calculated.
1. For starters, TCI can only be measured for coaches who move from one FBS job to another.
2. Start with the coach’s final season at his old job. Subtract the final regular season win total of this season from the final regular season win total under the new coach.
3. Next, move on to the coach’s first season at his new job. Take the final regular season win total of this season and subtract the final regular season win total of the previous season (the last under the previous coach).
4. Subtract the value from step 2 from the value in step 3. This is the TCI number for the coach. As in most things, more is better.
I know that might be a little confusing, but here is how the math plays out for the eponymous Chryst in 2015. His last Pitt team went 6-6 in 2014. Pitt improved to 8-4 in their first season without him. Subtracting 6 from 8 gives us 2. Pitt improved by two games without Chryst, which reflects negatively on him. His first team at Wisconsin went 9-3. Wisconsin went 10-2 in the regular season before Chryst’s arrival. 9-10 gives us -1. Wisconsin declined by one game when Cyryst arrived. Again, this reflects negatively on him. When we subtract the previous value (2) from -1, we get -3. Only four coaches could be evaluated by TCI for the 2015 season. They are listed below.
Jim McElwain was the only FBS coach to change jobs who had a net positive impact on his teams, both new and old. Chryst ranks last among the quartet of coaches who changed jobs in 2015, but his TCI of -3 is far from the worst of the last decade. Before we get to those esteemed gentlemen, let’s look at those coaches who produced the highest TCI since 2006.
TCI is not the final word on rating a new football coach, but it can be a useful, if flawed, tool to examine how a coach performed in his first season.
Next week, the Big 10 gets the APR treatment, and we'll take a closer look at Chryst's first Wisconsin team.